La Vanille Nature Park in Mauritas
La Vanille Nature Park is the only place where you can meet Domino, a giant tortoise more than 100 years old, who's looking pretty good for his age. You'll find lots of animals in La Vanille Nature Park, but Domino and his friends are the creatures you'll want to find first.
Far more exciting than the small tortoises kept as pets, these are incredible beasts. And the best bit is you really can walk with giants as you get close to feed them. You can also catch lunch time for crocodiles, ride ponies and hang out with fruit bats. It's no wonder that this is one of the most popular attractions for families on Mauritius.
In the south of the island amid fields of sugar cane and near the village of Riviere des Anguilles, the park is famous for the hundreds of Aldabra tortoises roaming freely in the grounds among the visitors. Gently stroke the heads of these friendly animals and ask the knowledgeable staff anything you want to know about them.
You'll want to buy some of the tortoises' favourite greens, so you can watch these amazing animals come 'running' over as fast as their little legs can carry them.
While it's great to get so close to the tortoises, you'll want to keep your distance from some of the animals. Watching the Nile crocodiles at feeding time is a great thrill, as they jump up to devour lumps of meat hung on a line above their pool. Those massive jaws and rows of sharp teeth are terrifyingly impressive.
This is your chance to see exotic animals like iguanas, giant fruit bats, monkeys and cute lemurs.
There's also a fossil museum with rare ammonites and one of the largest private insect and butterfly collections in the world with some 30,000 artefacts.
You'll want to take time to wander around the beautifully kept lush gardens and further explore the 3.5 hectares. Follow the nature walk along a stream in the valley and you'll find yourself in a tropical rainforest surrounded with giant bamboo and banana trees.
The staff at La Vanille Nature Park are not only incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, they're also involved in several conservation projects, including breeding programmes to protect endangered species and planting thousands of native trees to ensure the park continues to thrive for years to come.
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